▶️ ‘Extreme’ fire danger expected for Central Oregon by May

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With wildfire season fast approaching, a new study shows Central Oregon is far more likely than the rest of the West Coast to have extreme fire risk starting in May.

“So moving into the spring we are anticipating some potentially dryer conditions than we normally would,” said Jaimie Olle, the Public Affairs Specialist for the Deschutes National Forest.

The study, conducted monthly by Predictive Services and the National Interagency Fire Center, shows Central Oregon as the only section on the West Coast with ‘Above Normal’ fire danger for the month of May.

“Obviously that’s dependent on what we see in the next couple of months whether we do receive some more precipitation in that time period,” Olle said.

Dead vegetation lending to easy fuel was cited as a big factor in the study.

Central Oregon has less than 20% dry fuel, whereas the average and more extinguishable dead fuel sits around 20% to 30%.

“So Central Oregon continues to see exceptional drought throughout the region,” Olle said. “Looking at some of our snow sites today we’re still at about 78% of average in our snow to water equivalent levels.”

According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the chance of rain in the coming months is below average; in the 33% to 40% range.

Temperatures are expected to remain normal, which doesn’t bode well for winter flurries.

“As we move into May that’s typically a popular time when we see a lot of folks conducting some of that debris burning on their own landscape,” Olle said.

In the wildfire study, Predictive Services said, “Snow water equivalent values are running well below normal in southern Oregon and slightly below normal in eastern Oregon.”

So even though the lack of snow is a joy to some, those tumbleweeds piling up won’t have much stopping them from becoming kindling in the next few months.

“I think it’s that level of preparedness, just making sure that you are always in the mindset of being ready for a wildfire,” Olle said.

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